An open letter to the people served by The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust 

Sat 11th July, 2020

I know that you, the communities of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and mid Wales care deeply about your local hospitals and the care we provide. All of us experience important life events in hospitals, from the birth of a loved one, to life-changing surgery or treatment in an emergency. You have a right to expect the very best care every time you use our services. However, if things do go wrong, it is the role of the Trust and our staff to learn from any failings, so that we can provide answers to families and patients and improve our care now and in the future. 

You will, of course, be aware that our Maternity Services have been under the spotlight for some time. I know that our standards of care have fallen short for many families and I deeply apologise for this. 

An independent review, led by experienced midwife, Donna Ockenden, is looking into cases involving families from our communities. Today, we know that the total number of families whose cases are being reviewed is 1,862. I recognise that this will be a huge concern, both for those families and everyone in our communities, who depend on us for their care. 

It is a concern for our staff too, who are committed to providing our patients with the highest standards of care. 

There is no doubt that this continues to be a difficult and painful experience for many families and I am truly sorry for their distress. I recognise that we should have provided far better care for each and every one of these families at what was one of the most important times in their lives. We know that we have let them down. 

I am very aware that, for these families, words will never be enough and what they want to see is evidence of real improvement at the Trust. This is why we are committed to listening to them and to working with Donna Ockenden’s Review to ensure lessons are learned and we have a service which the community and our patients can trust. 

We have made some progress in improving the standards of care for mothers and babies and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) now rates our Maternity Services as ‘Good’ across three of the five standards (Caring, Effective and Responsive). However, we are rated as ‘requires improvement’ for the other two standards (Safe and Well-led). We recognise that we still have a long way to go. 

One of the things we have learned is that we must be better at listening to everyone who uses our services. We will work harder at this and create more opportunities for families to tell us about their experiences, allowing us to make positive, clear and tangible improvements, based on what we learn. 

Our opportunity to listen and learn should not be confined to the families involved in the Ockenden Review. Any family not included in the review can come to us at any time to share their experiences or raise any concerns. You can contact us by email: [email protected] or by phone to Patient Advice and Liaison Service on: 01952 641222 extension 4382. 

We must now let Donna and her team do their job and we will continue to work openly with them to help families get the answers they need and in turn for us to make the necessary improvements. 

In the meantime I want to reassure you that we are working hard to deliver the high quality Maternity Services that the people in our communities rightly deserve. 

Yours faithfully 

Louise Barnett 

Chief Executive, The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust